tv The Beat With Ari Melber MSNBC October 18, 2017 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
the same seat that used to be held by his younger brother, mike pence. so what's in a name? american politics? a whole lot. democrats are banking on some pence fatigue in the hoosier state. that's all we have for tonight. we'll be back tomorrow with more "mtp daily." >> senators grild attorney general jeff sessions. this was his first senate judiciary he committee testimony his since confirmation earlier this year and there are four key headlines. the first is maybe the worst. more pressure on what critics say are his misstatements about contact with russians. the democrat who questioned him into that original denial was back at it.
>> first it was i did not have communications with russians. which was not true. since you have qualified your denial to say you did not, quote, discuss issues of the campaign with russians, what in your view constitutes issues of the campaign? >> let me say this without hesitation, that i conducted no improper discussions with russians at any time regarding a campaign or any other item facing this country. >> mr. chairman, i don't have to sit here and listen to his -- >> you're the one -- >> without having a chance to respond. give me a break. >> you don't recall whether you talked about issues.
not being able to recall what you discussed with him is very different than saying i have not had communications with the russians. the ambassador from russia is russian. >> that's al franken saying that sessions is being less than truthful while the doj says he is clarifying the record of forgotten meetings that didn't seem important at the time. a second takeaway is news that bob mueller is interviewing people involved in james comey's firing. he has not yet reached out to jeff sessions. >> have you been interviewed, or been requested to be interviewed by a special counsel, either in question, director comey's firing, the russia investigation, or your own contact with the russian officials? >> i would be pleased to answer that. i'm not sure should i without clearing that with a special
counsel. what do you think? >> have you been interviewed by them? >> no. >> now, that's news because mueller never says who he is interviewing. we only know when the witnesses or their teams talk about it in public. the third takeaway, bits the future. the president refusing to say if the president would pardon anyone. this in a new statement to "the beat." the spokesperson says the special counsel's office has never confirmed a criminal investigation into comey's firing. that's true. mueller is not announcing his investigation's focus. but journal. is have reported he is investigating obstruction and of course, the comey firing it was final straw that led to a special counsel appointment in the first place. >> do you believe that it would be problematic for an ongoing investigation if a president were to preemptively issue a pardon for someone who we have
reason to believe is of interest to that investigation he before the special counsel had a chance to finish his work? >> well, the power pardon is quite strong. i have not studied it. i don't know if that would be a problem. >> and finally, sheldon white house, a form he prosecutor himself. he asks sessions to name names were it comes to preventing the next putin attack. >> campaign and election interference by the russians is not going away. what i would like to know from you is the name of a person in the department of justice whose job it is to look at that. is there such a person and what is his or her name? >> i'll be frank. i don't know that we're doing a specific legislative review. >> the doj may not be reviewing how to use or expand legal
authority to prevent russian attacks and the dhs took eight months before telling states they were even targeted by russia. as for the past, sessions answered some questions and left many more on the table. with me now, the man you just heard from, senator sheldon white house. >> the gateway question is to work through the nonassertion, assertion of executive privilege. there have been a lot of questions pertinent to our understanding of that set of facts have gone unanswered. and it is appropriate often for those facts not to be answered where there has been an assertion of executive privilege. there have been no assertions of executive privilege.
the rule at the department of justice allows you a short time period with the rule calls in abeyance whether you're going to exert executive privilege or not. so you don't have to just give up your privilege because you don't have time to sort through it. there are questions unanswered for months and months and months. and somebody has to start following the rules here on executive privilege. >> you mentioned the executive privilege, that was a theme that was brought. >> did the president ever mention to you his concern about lifting the cloud on the russia investigation? >> senator feinstein, that calls for a communication i've had with the president and i believe it remains confidential. >> but you don't deny that there was a communication. >> i do not confirm or deny the
existence of any communication between the president that i consider to be confidential. >> so senator, you were saying before we played that, there's a bit of a line here. there are communications and exchange that's someone could have with the president that he is protected by executive privilege. there are questions that should and could be answered. what are the questions? what are the key questions that fall on that side of it? >> the simpler thing on the executive privilege question he is that there is no executive privilege as to any question. it doesn't just lie out there. it has to be the president. as to this conversation, you
can't just hide behind it. so there's a lot of the are byplay between the white house and the various cabinet officials relates back to what the president was saying and thinking at the time. it relates back to his state of mind and potentially, his intent with certain comments, the whole he obstruction of justice issue. so it is important to open the gaitway. you can't live in the in between where there's assertion but no answer. >> let me ask but the most contentious. at his appearance this year, franken asking sessions at the time about a report that trump campaigned, surrogates had had
conversations. sessions saying at the time from his own standpoint, he had had communications. later it coming light that there had been moments, exchanges, conversations that jeff sessions had with folks from the russian government. sessions is saying, i gave you a good faith answer to a question i didn't see coming. it didn't mean i was speaking in any capacity as a surrogate. he says there's an inference in the question that is bad faith to being there. what did you make if sessions responds? do you believe that? >> i think that this ground has been well plowed. i don't think we learned anything new from today's he exchange, other than that the attorney general feels very strongly about this. he rose rather passionately to his own honor. >> all right.
thank you for the time. let me to go former federal prosecutor, the anchor for bbc. so he met with trump before writing the letter relevanting the fbi director be fired but refused to talk about conversations with trump. so what can bob mueller do when it comes to executive privilege? >> first, as was noted a moment ago, sessions did not invoke executive privilege. he said it was confidential. a lot of things that are comfort dpengs federal prosecutors can pry into. my bank statements are confidential. a lot of things confidential. the question is, is he invoking executive privilege? the fact that he didn't invoke it means congress can't try to force his hand. if he does do that in front of mueller, mueller can go to court and i would expect would not
hold up. that sessions would have to give answers on that to bob mueller. >> one of the other exchanges here. i think there was a question to sessions about potentially having conversations with donald trump when it came to firing bob mueller, potentially removing him as special counsel. i think we can play that with you. >> if the president asked for your advice, would that be an appropriate conversation to have with you? >> i have not thought that through. if it deals with the special counsel, i think the communication would need to be directed to the person who is supervising the special counsel and that would be the deputy attorney general. >> what did you make of that exchange? >> the second part of the answer was probably more honest than the first part. it is hard to believe he hasn't thought about what would happen
if the president came to him sxmd he was planning on firing bob mueller. he has recused himself from the russia investigation. this would have to go through rob rosenstein. i don't see how sessions can say that. this is something that he must have thought about. particularly ahead of this hearing. >> again he was talking about these being private conversations. he wouldn't talk about conversations he's had with trump about the firing of james comey. >> all the snippet that's i listened to on and off during the course of the hearing, he said continuously, i can't remember and i can't say. he went back to version 1.0 of why comey was fired and said it was about the clinton e-mails and nothing to do with comey.
decide whether they push him harder to get answers. >> this is what jeff sessions had to say about the then fbi director james comey. >> if that's the main reason the president wanted to fire him, why did it take so long? >> the investigation? >> no. to fire him. the president knew when he was inaugurated that comey jumped into the middle of the clinton e-mail investigation. took the job of attorney general over. that's the main reason he was fired. why did he wait so long to fire comey? >> i'm not sure he ever grasped the full import of that. >> and that's where the most interesting, i think peculiar to people elements of all this. that the official reason, the reason with jeff sessions is getting at in this hearing, the
official reason for firing james comey was that he was too hard to hillary clinton, essentially. >> it's weird be given the president's own tweet this morning attacking comey saying he was in the bag for clinton. so it doesn't even square with the president's statements. i have to say, clearly mueller is investigating the firing of james comey. unless austin of these reports on many different days are all wrong. assuming mueller is investigating that, i think the tack that sessions took today was a mistake. if i was advising sessions, i could see him saying that he refuses to go into matters like that or try to evade the question. to try to suggest that this is really, that the firing of comey was really about the hillary e-mails is silly at this point. the president has xriktd multiple times. >> we have videotape of the president sitting there saying,
this was about the russia investigation. how can he possibly -- i don't understand why sessions went back to the hillary e-mails. the trouble is it makes you think, if sessions isn't being straight with us on why jim comey was fired, what else is he not being straight with us on? >> one comment that jumped out, he said it is not fully understood, the significance of james comey's conduct toward hillary clinton. it is the most peculiar aspect of that to a lot of people. thank you both for being with us. coming up, is donald trump violating the constitution? oral arguments began that could have a huge impact on his business dealings. also, an official on the front lines of health care fight. she said that trump's actions are coming at the worst possible time. and a look at the personal side of the political debate about
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one of the most important legal challenges of the trump presidency had its first day in court today. a question, corruption and foreign influence that has dogged trump from his first week in office. >> in washington, d.c. watch dog group filed a lawsuit in federal court against the president of the united states. >> the first lawsuit of its kind against the wealthiest president in modern times. >> it alleges from the moment donald trump was sworn into office, he was in violation. >> in planl english it means no gifts from foreign governments. the suit claims the president is getting just that. >> no gifts. because the founders worried gifts could be bribes. trump accused of left fieldly taking those gifts through his
company by ethics groups led by officials in both parties, including the ethics counsel, richard painer. the controversial trump d.c. hotel is drawn representatives from foreign countries like kuwait, bahrain and. it was judge daniel in addition courtroom hearing arguments from both sides. a lawyer saying, pressing the judge to press the whole case and the lawyers for the ethics group saying no way. there is evidence right now that trump is violating the constitution. saying they think it went excellent. judge daniels said he will make a call probably within the next month or two. he can dismiss the suit, he could issue a new order stopping trump hotels from taking the business or have the case proceed to trial. and i can tell you something
else. he is actually the second judge to oversee this very young case. the first recused herself when her husband, a prosecutor took a new job with guess who, special counsel bob mueller. >> i'm joined by one of the attorneys in this case. under republican president bush 43. what happened to you in court factually and then as an advocate, what arguments could win the day for your side? >> well, the arguments today were on a motion to dismiss, brought by the justice department on behalf of the president of the united states. they want the case dismissed on two grounds. one, they claim that crew, the organization which i am vice chair and also counsel, does not have standing on bring a lawsuit.
the second argument is that we are wrong in our interpretation of the emol umts clause that it only applies to the narrowest possible circumstances where the clause would be meaningless. we believe that we as group have been injured by the conduct of the president. this is about a lot more than who stays in hotels and books the hotel rooms. bits the financing of the trump business he will pier. any real estate empire is dependent upon an enormous amount of borrowed money and other equity investors. we don't know who they are. all we know is that ever since the mid 1990s, the new york banks wouldn't loan any money to him because they didn't like not getting paid back. we don't know where he's getting
his money from. if it is from foreign governments, it is a violation of the constitution. we want to know what other money from foreign governments are coming to this president. is he dependent on foreign governments and banks and in violation of the constitution? we need to find that out now. >> right. in your case, it is an important way for people to find out. there are two things here. i want to play some sound. number one, almost national security argument you make that all of us should care a lot whether there are secret foreign deals being made that have reward or leverage over our government. and yet that in one sense is a policy discussion. the constitutional argument, as you well know, you have to convince this court that e-moluments. whatever you think about all of this, it is not a gift under the
constitution. >> paying for a hotel room is not a gift or a present. it is not an emolument. president-elect trump has decided and we are announcing today that he is going to voluntarily donate all profits from foreign government payments made to his hotels to the united states treasury. >> what do you say, richard, to the argument that this is a fair market value transaction, not a gift. >> well, she is flat out wrong in her he interpretation of the constitution. the founders are well aware of this, including russia at the time. they were doing it way back then. trying to corrupt other country's governments to pay off politicians. that includes any value added transaction and furthermore, it is a profit or benefit.
from dealing with a foreign country or an entity controlled by a foreign country's government. and it is very clear what the founders intended to prohibit. they were not stupid. they knew countries like rush, great britain, france, austria, hungary at the time. many governments would try to corrupt our government. this is about the fundamental financing structure. we have no idea where he is borrowing his money. we have no idea who is other investors are. does he have a dependency relationship with russia, china, with any other foreign government? we want the judge to find out the facts and then decide whether the president is in compliance. >> governor dean, this case, richard's case, hits the court today.
how important do you think it is in the trump era when we have a lot of different disputes going on? >> i think it is extremely important. first of all, the attorney who was defending trump was incorrect. many of the hotel payments have been well above market. in fact, the vo i'm isn't that great and charging enormous amounts that aren't disclosed. the second thing is that trump has promised to donate large suls of money to all kinds of people. he once promised to donate $25,000 to a family of someone who lost their child defending the united states. and he doesn't pay. the fact that he says he'll donate payments doesn't mean anything. and i deferred to richard.
bob mueller will have a lot to say about there. his investigation is to find out did trump who sold his white elephant house in florida to a russian for an exorbitant amount of money, was that participation in laundering money? if that's the case, that's clearly an emolument. he got some money. the russian got some money. it was illegal. i think mueller will find out all this stuff. this case will not go away based on what this particular judge decides. it will come back again and again and again. >> well, governor, you're not a lawyer but you are a former public official. i'll ask you the plain english common sense question. when this government, the trump administration says it is not logical to think that people would try the curry favor by throwing money at his
businesses, does that fast he test for you as someone who ran in state government and you had lobbyists and other people trying to get to you? >> well, the scale of trump's malfeasance is extraordinary. and the answer is this has been going on for a very long time. jared will be investigated, probably is being investigated now. he got into a lot of trouble when his family bought 666 fifth avenue. he had to get bailed out. no one will lend the trumps money because they don't pay it back so there's money where the money for that came in. most people believe it is a russian oligarch. so this is a pattern. this is really important. a straight up emoluments case which has never been argued in 200 some odd years of history. if you don't think bob mueller is looking at this stuff, we would all have to have a second look. >> i have to thank three people really quick will. both of you for being in this
discussion and i want to thank my colleague steve kornacki who helped me out when i had some difficulties here at the top of the show. thanks to everyone. ahead, are we prepared for future election meddling? attorney general sessions responded. it was pretty fascinating. the political debate over trump's attempts to contact the families of fallen soldiers. is it also a personal question for our heroes among us? up next, i'll speak directly to a gold star mother and father who lost their son this may.
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knew, something to the fact that he knew what he was getting into when he signed up but i guess it hurts anyway. she was in tears. and she said he didn't even remember his name. >> i didn't say what that congresswoman said. didn't say that at all. i had a very nice conversation with the woman with the wife who sounded like a lovely woman. i did not say what the congresswoman said. >> the larger context is clear and an associated press report which notes, quote, like presidents before him, trump has made personal contact with some families of the fallen, not all. what's different is that trump, alone among them, has picked a political fight over who has done better to honor the war dead and their families. one such individual, army specialist atn murphy died in may after an armored vehicle that he was traveling in rolled
over in syria. and i want to turn now to broaden this national discussion. i am joined by his parents, sheila and calvin murphy. thank you both for joining me. this is a difficult topic any time and especially, i imagine, right now. i guess i want to start, miss murphy, by asking you to tell us about your son. >> my son was a good boy. he liked the laugh. he loved his country. he loved his wife. and his two boys. it was in his blood to join the military but he wanted to do more for his country. so he volunteered to become a ranger, which he did. one of the army's elite. and it was just his goal to go and fight against evil for this world, for this country and for his family. >> and how do you think we
should remember these soldiers who die in service, as we have this national conversation? >> well, with me, the rangers, they're like a special breed of men and women. i don't think they should die but they go serve their company. everything that they have to go through to get where they are is just a tremendous accomplishment. and they do things behind the scenes that no one knows about. and we just want them, that they should be, they deserve the credit, the credibility that they work so hard for. and this country that they dedicated their life to protect. and so it's kind of hard when
people kind of overlook that. >> and mr. murphy, this occurred in may of this year. did president trump call you after your son was killed? >> no. we haven't heard anything from the president. but i mean, we had the chief of staff has called us, the head of the rangers has called us. we had senators from massachusetts, georgia, mayors from georgia and massachusetts call us. but no, not the president. >> and miss murphy, what did you think when you heard about president trump's recent comments, come pairing his own approach to this to previous presidents in both parties? >> well, i just want to give my honest opinion. a letter or a call really isn't
going to change how i feel but i just think that whenever anyone is discussing things that have to do with people who are grieving, that they should maybe think about what they're saying. you don't know how it will affect that person or persons. and what i want to say, i don't want this to be some back and forth banter about whether or not someone did a better job. it's about my son. he was a specialist. he loved doing what he did. and now this is the aftermath. this is what happens when people, young people go over there to fight for our country that they love so much. we're the aftermath. we're the casualties of war. my daughter-in-law, my grandchildren, my son, my daughter-in-laws, they're the casualties of war. the young people, those soldiers coming back with ptsd, they're the casualties of war.
it is not really about whether or not a person may have called or did something more than the previous one. it's about what are you doing now to help those who are left behind, who have to struggle day to day. i dread the sunrise. and i welcome the sunset. because i'm hoping as the sun sets, maybe i don't have to deal with another sunrise because my pain is just so great. so if that letter, or that phone call could bring my son back, i would run from here on foot to washington, d.c. to get that letter. but right now, it really doesn't matter who did the greatest thing. what matters right now is that people remember my child. especially, all the ones that are gone and those out there right now at this moment fighting for us. remember them. put the spotlight on them.
and not on anything that has to do with whether or not someone did something that the other person didn't do. it doesn't matter to me right now. i just want my child back. i just want my child. >> he is their commander in chief. he is their commander in chief. and every life matters. >> yes. it all does. all life. >> he is the one who ultimately has to make that decision for them to go. so he should care about each soldier and every family. >> but it's okay. i've learned not to depend on man. that i understand president trump may have been busy. he may not have the compassion or the concern that i have because it's my child. so it really doesn't matter to me whether or not i receive a call or a letter. i do understand how people are and how this world is. it is just, it is what it is.
i'm just trying to let people know about my son and the many countless others. and i don't want them to be forgotten. i don't want it to be about a letter or call not being received. what are we doing now to honor them? to help their families? >> mrs. murphy, mr. murphy, i think it is so important what you're saying. in the politics and news which we intersect with sometimes. your daily grief. so we want to honor your son and i thank you for sharing that. i wish, if we were in the same room, i would ask if i could give you a hug. i really appreciate you honoring your son and sharing that with us today. >> thank you. thank you for having us. >> thank you both.
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>> i'm not sure about that. >> attorney general sessions said he's not sure whether he talked about policies or positions of the trump campaign. what is the top law enforcer in the country doing about it? >> do you think we're doing enough to prepare for future interference by russia and other foreign adversaries in the information space. >> probably not. we're not. and the matter is so complex, for most of us, we're not able to fully grasp the technical danger that's are out there. >> last night on "the beat," my colleague rachel maddow talked about the threat of putin's approach to the world. >> anybody who is challenging, anybody who is rising to the point of being interesting in
terms of opposing putin, what could not the stanley looms, it is very concerning that putin got this far into our politics. it is not the just a threat to us. it is a mortal threat to american politics. >> i am joined by michael isikoff. you see sessions there not denying the elections hack. where does this investigation go when you have the testimony you saw today and since we have you here, what stood out to you? >> well, what stood out to me, obviously, he would not answer the questions about his own conversations with the president relating to the firing of jim comey which is pretty striking, that the white house is consistently said that they want this investigation over. they want to lift the cloud over the president that has been
anging over it. relating to that issue. so the president could authorize attorney general sessions to answer the questions relating to this matter. sessions was well aware it would come up. the democrats wrote him a letter anded. this is what we'll ask but in this hearing. and instead, he hides behind this sort of assertion of executive privilege. he just said it is subject to executive privilege. it is all something that he could have answered and he chose not to. and that is only going to fuel the suspicions of those who have a darker view of what happened then. attorney general sessions presents. >> and i asked a spokesperson about this today. are they standing by what the
deputy attorney general rosenstein and jeff sessions by implication said about zcomey? the president underline that's with his tweet. so at a certain point, the stories aren't even straight in public let alone in private. >> and i thought it was striking. sessions did talk a bit about the reasons for firing comey and took some pretty pointed shots at him relating to his handling of the hillary clinton matter. and i thought he went a bit beyond than he's gone before. and what is striking about that is, this is conduct that didn't raise any objection from the president at the time when he was on the campaign trail or from sessions himself. as a major surrogate for the campaign. >> absolutely. so it leaves a lot of the
questions even though he was ducking. always great to have your insights. >> any time. ahead, my exclusive interview live we the health care official who is running one of these obamacare exchanges caught in the cross fire of trump's changing point about whether he'll stick to a deal on funding. endless shrimp is here with flavors you'll love. like new savory grilled mediterranean shrimp, topped with a blend of green onions, tomatoes, and herbs. and your favorites, like garlic shrimp scampi. now's the only time to try as much as you want,
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switch and you could save $782 on home and auto insurance. call for a free quote today. liberty stands with you™ liberty mutual insurance. donald trump stoking more confusion on obamacare today, contradicting his own statement that he'd work on this bipartisan plan to shore up funding. republicans, of course, failed to overturn the law. that was the repeal stage. this week, we're seeing a new stage, sabotage. trump pushing into more extreme territory to undermine the current markets, which means this may be now less about reform and more about how obamacare insurance markets work out in the states. now, those state markets matter more than ever. my next guest runs one of the exchanges at the heart of this battle. and says the timing of this white house unrolling the aca couldn't be worse, and the
actions at the federal level undermine her efforts. also today, 19 different state attorneys general go to court to force trump to make the payments. trump's failure to offer any consistency has people looking to these states for leadership. in fact, it was senator lamar alexander calling out trump for turning his back on this bipartisan deal that he has ste trump engineered. >> he completely engineered the bipartisan agreement that senator murray and i announced yesterday in this way. i mean, he talked to senator schumer and encouraged him to ask murray to do it. he called me twice over the last ten days, to talk to me about a bipartisan agreement for the short-term. >> a bridge. >> a bridge so people aren't hurt. >> senator alexander apparently learning the megan treanor lesson about trump's legislative offers. if his lips are moving, he may not be telling the truth. trump ultimately did to the stick to any part of his pledge to work on this obamacare bipartisan plan. i'm joined now by allison
o'toole, the ceo of minnesota's health care exchange program. you are in the thick of this. you say the timing couldn't be worse. why? >> well, it really couldn't be. thanks for having me, ari. we're two weeks out from open enrollment. and what this decision does is not only undermine a program, but it ultimately impacts millions of americans. and that's not fair. >> and so, when you see what he's doing, do you think it is designed to basically undercut your work in the states? >> you know, i don't ever ascribe motives to i anyone, but you know, what it is doing is undercutting market stabilization efforts and hin r hindering enrollment. and that makes my job tougher in minnesota. my job is to make sure as many minnesotans enroll into coverage as possible. and, you know, the timing really couldn't be worse in that regard. >> we're going to put on the screen, the minnesota insurance
coverage, under obamacare. over time, more and more people have gotten insurance. tun insured rate has dropped more recently in 2015 to 4.3. where is it headed now? >> well, 96% of our -- of minnesotas are covered now, and that's great news. we've got the highest rate of insurance in state history, and one of the highest in the country, and we want to keep that trajectory going. what we're facing right now are headwinds, because of this federal action. and we're going to be working really hard to combat that in the next few weeks. and for the next several, couple of months. >> so, in short form, your view is for, at least for minnesota, it ain't broke. >> oh, it's not -- you know, we've had success here. we've had success with state innovation, too. and it kind of has taken the reins at a state level and stabilized our market and we are enjoying success. that's not to say that the affordable care act doesn't need to be tweaked. i testified in front of senator
alexander's committee a few weeks ago and really support his bipartisan efforts. i am hopeful that they will get something done there. it's not perfect, but it is working in minnesota. >> yeah. well, we've heard a lot of sniping about this in washington and on the politics. i know you're interested in the policy, and actually out there doing it in a state. so we wanted to hear from you, allison o'toole, thank for joining me today. >> thanks so much for having me, ari. >> absolutely. you're watching "the beat" and i'll be back with a final word. our recent online sales success seems a little... strange?nk na. ever since we switched to fedex ground business has been great. they're affordable and fast... maybe "too affordable and fast." what if... "people" aren't buying these books online, but "they" are buying them to protect their secrets?!?! hi bill. if that is your real name. it's william actually. hmph!
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we are just about done with our show. i wanted to extend my thanks, again, to sheila and calvin murphy. those are the parents i spoke to earlier in the broadcast. parents of etienne murphy, a 22-year-old who was killed in may in iraq -- excuse me, in syria, serving his country. and we spoke about him earlier today when we were preparing for the interview and during the interview tonight. and i know that what they shared was difficult for them, as many of these days are, but it was a reminder to us and hopefully to people watching about what to focus on and what matters here. so i thank them for that. and i wanted to mention that here at the end of our hour. that does it for "the beat." "hardball" is up next. bad call. let's play "hardball."